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MCT 11am DAILY PRAYER (or any alternative time)

Hello everyone,

Very quickly after the Coronavirus hit the UK, there were two books written about God and the Pandemic.  Theologian John C Lennox – “Where is God in a Coronavirus world” & a book of prayers by Nick Fawcett from which we have been selecting, using, and benefitting over the weeks – “For Such a Time as This”

More recently Tom Wright, wrote ‘God and the Pandemic.’  Tom Wright is a Research Professor of New Testament  & Early Christianity at St Andrews & Wycliffe Hall Oxford, prior to which he was Bishop 0f Durham (2003-2010) and will be known by those of us who attended the York Course MCT Lent Groups as over the years  he was a contributor.

In the final chapter  – Where  do we go from here? Tom Wright tells us that roughly one-third of the psalms are complaints that things are not as they ought to be. The words they use question why, – Sorrow, Anger, Regret, Frustration, Expressing grief, Mourning, Bitterness.   Perhaps you have experienced your own feelings and have your own questions.

Some Christians have been turning to the book of Revelations looking for signs of the End Times but in these uncertain times Tom Wright cites the Lord’s Prayer as our ‘Norm’

Are we looking for signs of the end times?

No.  In the Lord’s Prayer we pray  ”Thy Kingdom come on Earth as in Heaven”  and we know that this prayer will be answered because of what we know about Jesus. 

Are we looking for fresh, sudden calls to repent?

No. We pray every day, ‘Forgive us our Trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us’. We know that this prayer will be answered because of what we know about Jesus. 

Tom Wright goes on to say : ‘We need Jesus –  His Kingdom-bringing life, death and resurrection; his ascended sovereignty, the promise of his coming to bring heaven & earth together in glorious final renewal.  Any attempt to add new ‘signs’ to this narrative diminishes it.

For this week :- may I suggest praying for your concerns and for the uncertainties that relaxing the lockdown  brings  and spend some time praying the Lord’s Prayer.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours

now and for ever.

Amen.

Keep Safe -Keep Praying.  

Peter

A message from Bishop Nick Baines for the Diocese of Leeds

Bishop Nick Baines

Our Bishop Nick has written a letter of thanks and encouragement to all worshippers in our diocese for being the Body of Christ in the wider world throughout the COVID-19 crisis. You can watch his video recording of the letter also see the text of the letter below.

Bishop Nick’s message to the diocese – 10 July 2020

Friday 10 July 2020

To all parishes in the Diocese of Leeds

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We are living through challenging and extraordinary times. The church, committed to the real world and the communities in which we are set, has continued to worship and serve despite the restrictions. Given the nature of the virus, it will be some time before we emerge into something resembling ‘normality’. We have to be clear and honest about that.

Thank you for both the remarkable ways you have continued to be the church … in the world … even if the buildings had to be closed for a long time. I want to say one or two things to encourage you, building on material you might have seen on the diocesan website or had passed to you from letters I have written to the clergy.

Inhabiting the Scriptures
Lockdown and our attempts to innovate ways of worshipping together have been experienced by many as a sort of ‘exile’. In the Old Testament prophets (such as Isaiah) we see people exiled to a strange land where nothing is familiar. All that shaped their life and worship had been stripped away. They lamented the loss of their familiar life (and what this said about God and them); they tried to come to terms with the present realities; and they then began to look forward to shaping a different future.

This time in our life enables us to re-read the biblical experience afresh – so much of the Bible was written by and for people whose normality was uncertainty and fragility. This also accords with the daily experience of most Christians around the world, including those in our link dioceses in Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania and Pakistan. Let’s not waste the opportunity to learn anew how to live with uncertainty, aware of our own limitations and fragility.

Being the church
The Church of England has a unique vocation in and for England: we are committed to particular places. We are called to pray for those in our parishes, to be the answer to our prayers when appropriate, to love and serve those in need, to care for the sick and to support those who mourn, and reach out with the good news of God’s grace. We have been doing all this – and will continue to do so into the future. We know we are not always strong, but God is and we trust in him … whatever comes our way.

Emergence
We don’t know what the future church might look like in every place, but we do have a role in shaping it. There will be things we need to let go of and new ways of being that are being discovered or yet to be discovered. We will emerge at different paces over the coming months and care needs to be taken over how and when we open our buildings and hold onto the new forms we have learned recently. Church House is providing detailed and digested guidance at every step, but your archdeacon and area bishop are there to be consulted for any support as we move forward.

Encouragement and challenge
I mainly want to thank and encourage you. We will face big questions – nationally as well as in our diocese – about finance and buildings, threats and opportunities. But, as a diocese we are confident and well set up to face these. Indeed, we have been doing just this since our creation in April 2014; so, this isn’t a new challenge. You can be confident that we will deal with the challenges of the months ahead with confidence in God, confidence in the Gospel, confidence in our clergy and lay leaders, confidence in our unique vocation as a church to worship and serve God together.

So, be encouraged. Use the resources available to you in the diocese and parish. Pray simply and hopefully, knowing that God is never surprised.

And please be assured of the prayers of your bishops and archdeacons, the deans and area deans, our lay staff at Church House and all who are committed to you. May God bless you in all you are and do. I look forward to the time when we can be together again, physically and in person.

In Christ.

Rt Revd Nick Baines
Bishop of Leeds

Service of Thanksgiving – Doreen Holmes

Doreen will be brought into St Bartholomew’s Church on Thursday 9th July. The church will be open from 2:30pm – 6pm for private prayer and quiet music. This will be an opportunity for anyone wishing to go and pay their respects and say goodbye to Doreen. Social distancing must be observed.

A pre-recorded Virtual Service of Thanksgiving for the Life of Doreen led by Rev’d John Dracup will be made available on the Parish Website (www.melthamparish.co.uk) from 4pm on Friday 10th July (available for 14 days). You can take an order of service for this from church on the Thursday afternoon.

Due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, the committal will be family only and they ask that this is respected. Please pray for them.

MCT 11am DAILY PRAYERS (or any alternative time)

Hello Everyone

CHAOS & ORDER

Matt 8:23 -27 tells of the disciples’ angst and fear whilst, out in their boat in a storm, Jesus was sleeping.

Whatever noise and distractions there are around us, whatever worries and concerns are vying for our attention, when we begin to pray we need to find that centre of stillness within, settling into a moment of peace, asking for the peace only God can give.

Jesus was surprised that his disciples didn’t feel safe with Him in the boat.

The sea and the storm around them were symbols of the chaos from which God created the world.  If we seek Him, Jesus has the same power to create and bring order to our lives.

This story is well known but you may wish to open the bible as you consider the following questions.

How do you react to crises that come into your life?   Do you panic like the disciples? Put up your defences? Resign yourself to the inevitable? Or do you put all your trust in the Lord?

Remember Jesus rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

Let us focus our prayers this week on :-

  1. Leicester after 100 days lockdown to be the first to be put back into local Lockdown.
  2. For our government as they run a programme of relaxation of the lockdown rules. Pray for peoples response.
  3. For Social and financial implications already showing signs of the damage the pandemic has caused,
  4. For all the peoples of the world whatever faith they have that, together we can openly recognise and see that we are all in the same boat, so let us seek Gods order for our world

Open Doors is an organization that works in over 60 countries providing support and emergency relief and supporting Christians who suffer for their faith. Across the world, the spread of coronavirus is having a devastating effect. Open Doors is reaching some of those affected and they are highlighting that:.

Christians are facing discrimination in the distribution of aid in countries which include Nigeria, India and Bangladesh.

Christian nurses are given COVID-19 patients to care for and denied PPE in the Gulf region – “because it is dangerous… We are dispensable.” 

In Somalia, Religious minorities are blamed for the pandemic.   Somalia is a very dangerous place for Christians.

Extremists are exploiting vulnerable Christians in lockdown.  In Nigeria, 32 Christians were killed in one opportunistic attack.

For many the situation is overwhelming: “People have become so desperate that they are forced to trade their religion in exchange for food.”

Our Prayers are much needed.

Keep Safe & Keep Praying      

Peter

News Bulletin for Sunday 5th July – churches begin to re-open – numbers limited


My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be:
I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Psalm 42:4 (NLT)

Psalm 42 will be familiar to many as it is the basis of the song As the deer pants for water. Perhaps this verse resonates with you at the moment as you think about how long it has been since you were able to worship God in Church alongside your Christian brothers and sisters.

The good news is that we can now begin to reopen our Churches. However this will not happen with the celebration and fanfare that some may have hoped. The pandemic may be under control, but it is not yet over.

Our reopening will need to be controlled and restrained, carefully thought through, cautious, and above all else safe. The first opening times will be:

Sunday July 5th 9:30 St Bartholomew’s – Meltham
10:30 St James’ – Meltham Mills

Sunday July 12th 9:30 St Bartholomew’s – Meltham
10:30 St James – Meltham Mills

These will be prayer services and will last about 30 minutes and will not include Communion or hymns. We will have to stay within a safe capacity of around 30 people in each service and if this capacity is reached we will sadly have no choice but to turn people away.

The doors will be opened around 10 minutes before the service and we need to encourage people not to arrive too early to avoid queuing.

There will not be any refreshments after the service and we must ask you not to gather for too long outside.

I understand that this is not the way that any of us would like our fellowship and worship to be but it is a beginning and in time things will improve.

No one should feel under any pressure to come to any of our buildings until they feel ready to do so. In truth, under the current circumstances, it would be difficult if everyone returned at the same time.

Our online services will continue.
God bless, Reverend John (Vicar)

Online Parish Communion Services
Our weekly Parish Communion will continue to be posted on our website www.melthamparish.co.uk and should be available for 10:30am. Please join in if you are able.

Zoom Services
There is a weekly service available at 11:15 via Zoom. The link is available on our website. Help can be given if you haven’t used Zoom before.